Thursday, 30 January 2020

More mines

My recent blogs have all included a whinge about January and the paucity of wildlife. But of course, if conditions are mild - as they currently are - there are things to be seen. Nothing dramatic but nevertheless of interest, if tiny creepy-crawlies turn you on.

A stroll around Stefen Hill Pocket Park, camera in hand, was not particularly exciting but there were two or three surprises.

Plants of Wood Avens, aka Herb Bennet, Geum urbanum, bore the mines of the Golden Pigmy Moth, Stigmella aurella. In a way this was a disappointment because I had recorded this very common species only yesterday, in Byfield. There it was on bramble, but of course Geum and brambles are fairly closely related, both being in the Rose Family, Rosaceae.  Incidentally Herb Bennet is a corruption of the words Herba Benedicta, or the Blessed Herb.

Herb Bennet bearing a mine of the Golden Pigmy Moth. Stefen Hill
Pocket Park. 30 January, 2020
On the same plant, just a few inches away, a gall was present. It was caused by a mite, Cecidophyes nudus. Now I am forced to admit that, compared with the animals to be seen on the plains of Serengeti, it was not wildly exciting. But it was a new record for the pocket park so I was content.

The gall of  a mite, Cecidophyes nudus, on Herb Bennet. Srefen Hill
Pocket Park. 30 January,2020

Leyland Cypress, x Cuprocyparis leylandii, is notorious for provoking quarrels between neighbours, and it is generally pretty useless for wildlife, but it did have a surprise for me today. A dicoloured shoot looked suspicious so I took it home for closer inspection and found that a moth larva was present. It was a Triple-barred Argent Moth, Argyresthia trifasciata. This tiny but rather attractive moth was not recorded in Britain until 1982, when a specimen was taken in London but is now quite common in gardens. Of course it was new to the pocket park.

The much-maligned Leyland Cypress nevertheless provided a home
for a Juniper Ermine Moth, causing discoloured tips to the
branches. Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 30 January, 2020
I found little else to set my heart a-flutter. Yes, the Firethorn Leaf Miner, Phyllonorycter leucographella had left evidence of its presence on its eponymous host, but it is another extremely common micro-moth of no great significance.

Damage caused by the larva of the Firethorn Leaf Miner.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 30 January, 2020
I had a little surprise as I left the park. A salt-grit box stands at the entrance and I paused, not because I was enchanted by its beauty but because these boxes are often home to interesting spiders (no, I don't know why).

It may be a grit box to you...
I lifted the lid and found, not a spider but a Hawthorn Shieldbug, Acanthosoma haemorroidale. It is a very common species but to find one under these circumstances was a surprise.
...but it is a home for this Hawthorn Shieldbug. Stefen Hill
Pocket Park, 30 January, 2020

A pleasing way to end the day!

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